The cloud is thickening again for another rain of meaningless jamboree called palliatives from the federal government. Under President Muhammadu Buhari billions of dollars were distributed to a class of people called poorest of the poor via cash transfer, according to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management. Even with the claimed assisted compilation of National Social Register(NSR) by the World Bank, it has remained a subject of controversy because there are no verifiable evidence of such distribution.
The NSR had 3.5 million households yet nobody living or dead accepted he or she got the money. Rather the palliative said to be for COVID -19 created ethnic tension and cleavages. The Southerners claimed the North got all the money, now the North is raising alarm over the proposed disbursement of fuel subsidy removal palliatives, saying the distribution is skewed against the North. Primarily, Nigeria is divided into the North, South, East and West. Any national cake sharing without a reflection of this quadrilateral spread is anti-Nigeria given its pluralistic nature.
Buhari set a dangerous precedence with making the North seemingly superior to other geo-political zones. Now, President Bola Tinubu is making the Yoruba race a king over others. 80 per cent of the political appointments so far, is from his Yoruba ethnic stock.
This only sends the message that federalism and federal character principle is dead. Nigeria stands on quadrilateral stool and so not difficult to achieve quadrilateral equilibrium in development and political appointments as well as subsidy palliative distribution. The Buhari and Tinubu lessons are anti-democratic, dehumanizing and capable of creating social unrest now and tomorrow. It makes them sectional leaders, at best.
Kano State governor, Kabir Abba Yusuf has that the mode of distribution of the federal government’s N500 billion palliatives for small-scale industries in the country is not fair to the North.
The governor who spoke through his deputy, Comrade Aminu Abdussalam in Kano last week said the distribution was heavily in favour of Lagos State and the South-South zone.
The federal government had announced support for small-scale industries across the geopolitical zones through the Bank of Industry.
The deputy governor’s press secretary, Ibrahim Shu’aibu, quoted the governor as saying that according to the mode of distribution of the fund, Lagos would be allocated 47%, the South-South will get 17% while other regions will receive lower amounts.
Governor Yusuf said at a meeting with representatives of the Kano Cooperative Society at Government House in Kano that this is unfair, unconstitutional and illegal.
He urged the National Assembly and other relevant authorities to take appropriate action against those responsible while rectifying the situation.
The Senate President Godswill Akpabio and some of his colleagues have used the amendment of the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act as an opportunity to pad the budget by over N200 billion.
Sources said on Thursday, last week, that the senators involved capitalized on the request made by President Bola Tinubu for the appropriation of N500 billion for palliatives through the amendment of the Act to heavily pad the budget.
Budget padding is making the budget larger than the original estimates by inflating the value of items or introducing new items into the budget.
The Senate on Thursday approved the request made by the President to appropriate N500 billion for palliatives to cushion the effects of the removal of the petrol subsidy on Nigerians.
The Senate’s approval followed that of the House of Representatives which earlier agreed to the President’s request by amending the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act.
The N500 billion will be taken from the N819 billion Supplementary Appropriation Act.
Sources identified Senator Akpabio (Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District), Deputy Senate President Jibrin Barau (Kano North Senatorial District) and Senator Solomon Adeola, popularly called Yayi (Ogun West Senatorial District) as the major architects of the budget padding.
The Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central), who sponsored the motion which was given accelerated passage by the Senate had said, “Mr. President, my highly esteemed colleagues, permit me to lead the Debate on this very important Bill which seeks to authorize the issuance of the sum of Five Hundred Billion (N500, 000, 000, 000.00 Naira only.
“This sum has been extracted from the 2022 Supplementary Appropriations Act of Eight Hundred and Nineteen Billion, Five Hundred and Thirty-Six Million, Nine Hundred and Thirty-Seven Thousand, Eighth Hundred and Fifteen (819, 536, 937, 815.00) Naira only for the provision of Palliatives to Nigerians to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.”
“Finally, I believe that the proposal in this Supplementary Appropriation is laudable and will help cushion the suffering of the Citizens of this country owing to the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS),” he had added.
According to SaharaReporters some senators including the Chief Whip, Ali Ndume (Borno South) openly objected to the budget padding by their colleagues but that didn’t stop the “crooked” ones from going ahead with it.
“Akpabio and Adeola Yayi inserted over N200 billion into Tinubu’s palliative budget. They padded in more than N200 billion in the amended 2022 supplementary budget,” one of the sources in the Senate told SaharaReporters.
“Senator Ali Ndume and others opposed it vehemently. Many senators walked out but Senator Akpabio still went ahead and passed the fraud.
“Akpabio, Senator Jibrin Barau and Senator Adeola Yayi are the major architects of the budget padding,” another source said.
Documents obtained show how funds were allocated under the column -2022 supplementary amendment (New amount) for projects that hitherto had no allocations under column – 2022 supplementary bill (Amount).
For instance, N1 billion was suddenly earmarked for the “supply of Tricycles (Keke NAPEP) to the underprivileged in the society,” N2 billion was allocated to the “construction of public buildings in various communities and villages,” N4 billion was earmarked for rehabilitation and construction of selected critical roads while N2 billion was earmarked for the “construction of block of 3 classrooms with furniture and toilet, construction and furnishing of skills acquisition centres and construction of primary healthcare centres with furniture in some selected communities and towns”.
Other include N500 million for the construction of Edi Road, Sabo Market and Ilaro Township Road, Yewa South, Ogun State; N1 billion for the construction of roads in Imeko, Afon, Iwoye and Obada, Ogun State; N1 billion for the construction of Ilashe-Agbara Road, Agbara Ado Odo-Ota in Ogun; N1 billion for the construction of market square -Fadama Ring Road, Imasayi, Yewa North and Ota Lafenwa Road section 1, Ota, Ogun State.
-N800 million for police barracks, Old Baggage Link Road, Ode Ogun Idiroko, Ogun State
-N700 million for the construction of some rural roads in Ikot Ekpene LGA, Akwa Ibom to enhance agricultural output
-N1.25 billion for the construction of some rural roads in Essien Udim LGA to improve farm produce
-N1.25 billion for the construction of Afama Ikot Ebak, Ikot Akpan Essiet, Ura Kpan Ikot Ukpang and Ikot Ebie OkonRoads to boost agricultural output N1.25 billion
-N400 million for the construction of Ibi Akpan-Not Akan/Old Federal Government College Roads to boost farm produce
-N1.25 billion for the construction of some rural roads in Abiakpo Ikot Essien-Ikono to ease the movement of farm produce
-N1 billion for enhancing agricultural output by constructing all-in-one solar street lights on some roads in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area, Abak LGA and Essien Udim
-N2 billion for the repair of flood-prone sections along Abuja-Keffi expressway (Abuja bound) from Km 0+000 – Km 9+400 and construction of township road in Bare-Bari Bauya and Lailai in Yobe State
-N1 billion for the supply of brand-new Toyota/Lexus Jeeps
-N1 billion for the supply and installation of 300 KVA/500KVA transformers and electrification in selected towns and villages
-N2 billion for the construction and rehabilitation of critical roads in south-south and southeast of the country
-N2.5 billion for the construction and maintenance of critical roads linking selected towns
-N2.5 billion for the provision of 3 x 300 KVA solar mini-grid and solar streetlights in selected communities
-N3 billion for mini-grid and other solar-powered installations on selected locations and roads
-N3 billion for the construction of roads and other infrastructure in some selected areas
-N3 billion for the reconstruction/construction of classrooms and provision of furniture in areas affected by flood and some selected areas
-N2 billion to repairs on flood-prone sections along Abuja-Keffi Expressway
-N900 million for the rehabilitation of Dan Fodiyo Teaching Hospital Annex Argungu Phase 1 in Kebbi State
-N1 billion for the construction of Section I of Iyin-Ilawe Ekiti State
-N1 billion for the construction of Section II of Iyin-Ilawe Ekiti State
-N1 billion for the construction of inner roads in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State
-N1 billion for the construction of inner roads in Ijero Ekiti, Ekiti State
-N70 billion for the provision of operational vehicles for members, office equipment, furniture fittings and other capital items for the 10th National Assembly
Once Upon A Time Tinubu Criticised Saraki, Dogara For Budget Padding
Ironically, in April 2019, Tinubu, who was the National Leader of the APC accused Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, both former members of the party, of budget padding.
Saraki, then-Senate President and Dogara, then-Speaker of the House of Representatives, were members of Tinubu’s party until they defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2018 in the thick of pre-2019 election permutations.
“Just look at the way Saraki, Dogara and their ilk hijacked the budget process these past four years,” he said in a statement released by Tunde Rahman, his spokesman.
“National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them. Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefitted the average person.
“After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly.
“If we are truly committed to optimal governance, then we also must be equally committed to ensuring that the National Assembly leadership be competent and experienced as well as imbued with a progressive mindset and a desire to work in close cooperation with executive.
“This is all Asiwaju has hoped to achieve. There are no ulterior motives. Everything he has done is in concert with and in furtherance of the wishes of President Buhari and the party.”